Air PollutionStudy Questions
- What is the chemical composition of the atmosphere? 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, 1% other gases including CO2
- What is the innermost layer called? Troposphere
- The second layer? Stratosphere
- How thick are these layers? T = 11 miles at equator, 5 miles at poles. S - bove T to @ 30 miles
- What gas filters out Uv? Ozone
- What layer does the most filtering? Stratosphere
- What are some examples of natural air pollution? volcanoes, forest fires, dust storms, seas salt nuclei form wave action, pollen ,mold spores.
- What is the difference between primary and secondary air pollutants? Primary added directly to air, secondary is formed as a result of chemical and physical reactions between the primary pollutants and other atmospheric components such as water vapor or each other..
- What are some examples of each? Primary includes carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen and their oxides and hydrocarbons. Secondary include oxides and salts of the primary and compounds such as ozone and PAN. What is a VOC and what are some examples. Volatile organic compound -- methane , propane, CFC's, gasoline.
- What is the difference between smog and LA smog? London is a mixture of fog and smoke it occurs in cool foggy areas, LA is caused by a photochemical reaction between the pollutants (mostly from auto exhaust and industry) and light and occurs in warm sunny areas.
- Why is LA smog called photochemical? It is caused by the interaction between chemical pollutants and sunlight.
- What is acid deposition? Secondary air pollution of acidic compounds such as sulfuric acid and nitric acid which ultimately settles out on land or on water. Where is it the worst in the US? The Northeast
- Why is that term better than acid rain? The acidic compounds often settle out in the form of solids or snow not just rain.
- What are the major sources of outdoor pollution? The burning of fossil fuels by autos, power plants and industry. Metal refineries.
- What effects does air pollution have on
- Health: animals , plants -- can sickens or kill them. Major problems in animals are respiratory problems such as asthma and lung cancer.
- Materials --acid deposition causes major deterioration
- What helps protect humans from air pollutants? Our noses have hairs and mucus to filter out the larger pollutants, the repiratory tract is also lined with cells that have cilia that constantly beat and force stuff up and out.
- What is a thermal inversion? the trapping of a cool air near the surface by a warmer upper layer which is a reverse of the normal condition
- How do thermal inversions relate to air pollution “ events”? Air pollutants are trapped in the cooler air and can't be dispersed away form the area so they build up and become more of a health hazard.
- What are some examples of these events? 1880 London -- killed 2200, Donora, PA 1948 first major event in the US 7000 sick.
- How can we cut down or prevent air pollution? Use cleaner fuels. Use alternative energy sources. Use devices to trap pollutants before they are released.
- Is dilution a solution to pollution? only when you have few pollutants and small populations.
- Is indoor pollution better or worse than outdoor? Can be worse. How much worse? 2 to 5 times higher and in some cases 100 times. What about inside an automobile? In clogged city traffic 18 times higher.
- Why should people in developed countries be more concerned over indoor than outdoor? Our homes are more air tight and the materials we build them out of and furnish them with produce more pollutants. Also there are better air pollution standards in most developed countries for outside air but few for indoor.
- What are the major indoor pollutants? Formaldehyde, chloroform, para-dichlorobenzene, styrene, tobacco smoke, radon, asbestos
- Where do the following indoor pollutants come form?
- Formaldehyde -- glues in plywood, particle wood, OSB, carpet, furniture
- Radon -- uranium rock surrounding the basement
- Smoke -- fireplaces, smoking tobacco and other stuff
- Asbestos - best dealt with by simply covering it with paint or plastic not by removing. It was also used as a sound proofer and as an insulator for steam pipes and chimneys.
- Molds - mold spores are in the air - you really can't get rid of them -- you can slow their growth by keeping the humidity down.
- What is “sick building syndrome”? health problems caused by building materials -- most often associated with newer buildings.
- How can you prevent or control indoor pollutants? Have air to air exchangers so there is less buildup in the house, don't smoke, have well vented stoves use fewer products with formaldehyde glues or seal them well so out-gasing doesn't occur. Use less polluting cleaners.
- How are lichens/canaries and reindeer associated with air pollution? Lichens are very sensitive to air pollution and if there are none in your community then the air is most likely polluted., canaries were used by miners to detect harmful gases -- if they quit singing (died) the miners knew to get out of the mine.
thousands of reindeer in Lapland became too radioactive to eat after the Chernoble nuclear reactor melt-down because they feed on tundra lichen.
On this page:
Fewer miles driven means fewer emissions.
Follow these tips to reduce the time you spend driving:
- Walk or bike when you can.
- Use the bike-share programs if your city or town has them.
- Take public transit when possible.
- Carpool with friends instead of driving alone.
- Use ride-sharing services.
- Plan ahead to make the most of your trips and “trip chain.” If your grocery store is near other places you need to visit, do it all at once.
- Work from home periodically if your job allows it.
Top of Page
The way we drive can reduce emissions from our vehicles.
Follow these tips to effectively reduce emissions, drive more safely, and save money on fuel costs all at the same time:
- Drive efficiently – go easy on the gas pedal and brakes.
- Maintain your car – get regular tune-ups, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and use the recommended motor oil.
Top of Page
Choose Fuel Efficient Vehicles
When shopping for a new car, look for fuel efficient vehicles with low greenhouse gas emissions. These cars can help the environment while potentially saving you money on fuel costs at the pump. Follow these tips:
1. Use EPA's Green Vehicle Guideto learn about vehicles that are more efficient and less polluting, including:
- Electric vehicles;
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles;
- Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; and
- Cleaner burning gasoline vehicles.
2. Use the EPA's Fuel Economy and Environment Label to compare different vehicle models and find the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle that meets your needs. This information is also available on the joint DOE and EPA website fuel economy.gov.
Top of Page
Unnecessary idling of cars, trucks, and school buses pollutes the air, wastes fuel, and causes excess engine wear. Modern vehicles do not require “warming up” in the winter, so there is no need to turn on the engine until you are ready to drive.
Reducing idling from diesel school buses prevents children from being exposed to diesel exhaust, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves money on fuel. EPA's Clean School Bus Program includes information and resources that can help you reduce school bus idling in your community.
Top of Page
Optimize Home Deliveries
When getting home deliveries or shopping online, consider asking to have all your packages sent in one shipment and with minimal packaging. For scheduled home deliveries, try to be flexible by choosing longer time windows so delivery trucks can optimize their routes and avoid extra trips.
Top of Page
Use Efficient Lawn and Gardening Equipment
Gas-powered engines in lawn and garden equipment emit significant amounts of pollutants.
Follow these tips to reduce the impact of your landscaping:
- Use a manual (reel) mower for small lawns.
- When shopping for mowers and garden equipment, look for new technologies such as electric and battery-powered machines that are quieter and pollute less than gas-powered ones.
- Properly maintain lawn and garden equipment - tune mowers and change the oil as needed.
- If you are purchasing commercial grade landscaping machinery, a number of products are now available with advanced emissions reduction technologies including catalysts and electronic fuel injection that result in significantly less pollution.
Top of Page